Decluttering, Moving and the Fittings and Contents Form

Moving home is a good opportunity to declutter especially if it’s been a long time since your last move.  If you own a lot of stuff, it can be daunting thinking about packing everything away in boxes and loading it all on a removal van and unpacking and arranging everything at your new home.

Taking time before your move to have a clear out can make things easier when you come to move.  It’s amazing how much stuff can accumulate over the years.  If you have a large house and/or a lot of stuff, the sooner you start the better.  It can be a daunting task.  But it can be broken down into smaller steps.  You can start one room at a time.  You can break this task down further by tackling one drawer or one cupboard at a time.

William Morris said, “Have nothing in your homes that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”.  When you’re considering whether to keep or discard an item, keep this in mind.  Ask yourself, “Does this item serve a useful purpose?  Will I use this?  Will I enjoy having this item on display in my new place?  Or will it just stay in a box gathering dust?”

When you sell a property, your solicitor will ask you to complete a Fittings and Contents Form.  In this form you will be stating the items that will be included in the sale and the items that will be excluded from the sale.  The contract will contain a contract clause which will refer to items that are included and items that are excluded as shown on an attached list, so this form will become part of the contract.  The contract will usually also contain a clause requiring you to offer vacant possession on completion which will mean that you will need to leave the property before a specific time which is stated in the contract (usually sometime between 12pm and 2pm) and to take all your possessions with you, except for those items which you have stated in the Fittings and Contents Form that you are leaving at the property.

The Fittings and Contents Form does not mention everything and mainly refers to items such as carpets, curtains, white goods, fitted cupboards, etc.  It will not refer to furniture and personal items.  There are blank spaces on the form where you can include items not mentioned in the pre-printed form or you can attach an additional page to the form listing further items that you would leave at the property or that you would like to offer for sale.  Such items could include furniture (such as sofas, tables, chairs, etc) or garden items (such as garden equipment, trampolines, wendyhouses, etc).  Offering your framed posters of Barry Manilow or your 5,000 piece Swiss cowbell collection will probably be a bit optimistic.

The buyer may not necessarily want you to leave certain items at the property and may ask for these items to be removed from the property on completion.  For example, the buyer may already have their own washing machine, Barry may not fit in with their intended décor or they may have a Swiss cowbell phobia.  If the buyer specifically wants these items to be excluded, you will have to take these with you or alternatively take them to the charity shop or sell them on Ebay before you move.  Some local authorities collect bulky items for free or for a small fee if you arrange a delivery time with them.

It is very important that you do not leave anything at the property on completion that you have not stated in the Fittings and Contents Form or in writing via your solicitor to be included in the sale. You should also check outbuildings and storage places to make sure these are emptied of all belongings and rubbish and junk.  Your buyer will consider it an unpleasant surprise if they find an old mattress in the side alleyway, the shed full of junk or a large forgotten garden gnome collection in the attic.  Your buyer will likely then contact their solicitors who will be in contact to point out these items, point out that you were required to give vacant possession and will ask you to clear the property of all junk, rubbish and miniature bearded people.  If you do not clear the property, the seller could pursue you for reimbursement of removal costs that they incur in connection with arranging these items to be removed themselves.

It is also important that you do not take with you or throw away or sell any items which you have stated in the Fittings and Contents Form that are included in the sale.  The buyers could try to pursue you for replacements or reimbursement of the value of the items.  It is therefore a good idea to keep a copy of the Fittings and Contents Form that you completed and regularly check the form when decluttering and when preparing for your move.

If you are planning to sell a property, please contact Brian Craig on 020 7703 5034 or for timely advice.

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